June 18, 2024

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Chinese companies are blooding the Province of Tshopo in DR Congo by mining and deforestation favored by corruption


By Jay Sarm
In 2016, an investigation of the organization Greenpeace into one of the leading Congolese suppliers of logs alerted that Chinese firms are importing large quantities of wood which may be illegally cut from African rainforests . Over 10,000 Chinese firms are currently operating throughout the African continent and the value of Chinese business there since 2005 amounts to more than $2 trillion, with $300 billion in current investments.
Beef, soy and palm oil are responsible for 60% of tropical deforestation. If we want to tackle deforestation we also need to know what causes it. That allows us to avoid the foods that drive deforestation or innovate the ways we produce them. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases; the largest source of marine debris; the worst perpetrators of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and the world’s largest consumer of trafficked wildlife and timber products.


In 2020, the African countries with the largest Chinese debt were Angola ($25 billion), Ethiopia ($13.5 billion), Zambia ($7.4 billion), the Republic of the Congo ($7.3 billion), and Sudan ($6.4 billion). But the Democratic Republic of Congo has opened its land to Chinese companies that are operating with the help of corrupted officials especially destroying the environment in the Province of Tshopo. Jean-Bellow Melameka is alarming national leadership of DR Congo and the international community for the upcoming disasters that will affect the people of Banalia and Congo in general. In his estimations, DR Congo is the top ten recipient country of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment are. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa accounted for 63% of the total Chinese FDI stock in Africa.
Jean-Bellow Melameka denounces the Chinese company ORANGE MINING which carries out illegal mining in the province of Tshopo in full view of the local authorities. The overflow of this humiliating and fraudulent situation began in February 2023 when the Vice-Governor of Province, Mr. Paulin LENDONGOLIA launched the rehabilitation works of certain large quagmires between the sections going from BANALIA to KOLE and from KOLE to MANGI by the company ORACLE Mining which received the authorization to exploit Gold in the Territory of BANALIA, sector of Baboa de Kole.


Two weeks later the next day, the machines of this Company had already reached Kole 80 km from Banalia and took the secondary road MANGI to access the operating site which was initially MANGI. The so-called rehabilitation of this road consisted only of deforestation and clearing of the large quagmires, without limonite coating, less compaction or construction of bridges. As consequences, there is an impassability of this section in case of rain. During this operation, fruit trees, houses and others that were on the roadside were destroyed without any compensation.
Chinese investment has a mixed impact on local economic development. While some evidence suggests that Chinese investment increases infrastructure access at the local level, there is a consensus that Chinese investment has weak backward linkages and can act as “enclaves,” unintegrated with the host country’s economy. IN dr Congo, Jean-Bellow Melameka estimates that the experience of what Chinese are doing in Congolese forest and mines within the province of Tshopo are very alarming. It is also undermining transparency, the authority of state because mixed with protectionism from corrupted politicians and labour exploitation of local citizens. On top of that, Jean-Bellow Melameka points that the land is conceded to Chinese who disregard human rights and do nothing for local communities.
In his analysis, Jean-Bellow Melameka notes that Africa has become ever more essential to China’s strategic security. Therefore, China’s investment end game in Africa is resource security, mutual economic dependence, and political solidarity delivered in a whole-of-state strategy.
In the mining sector, Jean-Bellow Melameka reveals that Of the 19 cobalt operations in the DRC, 15 are now owned or co-owned by Chinese entities. The five largest Chinese mining corporations with interests in cobalt and copper in the nation have access to credit lines from Chinese state banks totaling an astounding $124 billion. That means most large industrial mines are run by joint ventures between a foreign company and one of the DRC’s state-owned (parastatal) mining companies. The goldmines of Kibali is co-owned by AngloGold Ashanti (45%), Barrick Gold Corporation(45%) and SOKIMO (10%), a state-owned gold mining company. The consolidated lease is made up of 10 mining concessions. However, Chinese companies are exploiting gold without trace in Tshopo province. there is a lack of data to measure the amount of gold they are extracting in Tshopo because the information is protected by hidden deals that benefits corrupted politicians who favor Chinese companies. As New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe commented on Twitter, ‘Chinese mining companies in the DRC operated in an entirely different financial reality. For Jean-Bellow Melameka, the buyers of Congo’s minerals must abide by the rules of international law because the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world and a country in war. Western companies must avoid buying minerals that are resulting from labor exploitation, human rights violations, and corruption in government, and impunity in Tshopo province.


In Banalia, Throughout the work of reopening the road I mentioned above, it is the exploitation which was done since at the level of the village BOKPADISI and BALISI, Gold was picked up on the ground by the Chinese workers and their dependents. In BALISI more precisely, the road was destroyed, then the local population got involved in this exploitation and bullets were fired in the air to disperse them. Administrators of mining centers and the Mining cooperatives of Mangi stopped at the level of BOKPADISA village where they erected workers’ camps and began exploitation of gold without the consent of rights holders.
Currently, there is a strong tension within the population where two camps have formed: those supporting the Vice-Governor with his Chinese (mostly members of the ABG Political Party) and the rest of the Community. Moreover, in a meeting held in MANGI by an Association “TOUT BANALIA”, the Leaders of this organization had warned this company not to access the MANGI Center.
The Chinese have the modus operandi of a criminal terrorist organization consisting of tax evasion. The capital does not pass in the banks and the clandestine evacuation of the Gold in Uganda without the control of the Congolese State. Other tactics used by the Congolese company ORACLE Mining which is in fact under Chinese control, is the intimidation of the local population by an army of mercenaries and the non-payment of mining royalties to the local population.